Agency Details

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Agency ID2753
TitleCommandant's Office, Moreton Bay
Agency TypeNew South Wales government authority
Start Date Circa 14/9/1824
End Date 10/2/1842
Date NotesN/A

Administration of penal settlement, Moreton Bay

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Controlling Agencies

Agency IDTitleFromTo
1161Colonial Secretary's Office, New South Wales 14/9/1824 10/2/1842
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Publication Notes
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Information Sources

(1) J.B. Steele, Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824 - 1842, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1975, pp. xxi, 34 - 35
(2) Steele, pp. 2-4
(3) Steele, pp. 120 - 134
(4) Steele, p. 125
(5) D. W. Fraser, "Settlement in Queensland in the Logan Period", The Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, Vol. 7 (1962 - 1965), pp. 448 - 449
(6) Steele, p. 24
(7) Ratcliffe Pring, ed., Statutes of the Colony of Queensland to the present time, Vol. 1, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1862, p. 577
(8) New South Wales Government Gazette 1842, Vol XII, No. 13, p. 267
(9) Steele, p. 324
(10) Steele, various pages
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Establishing N/A
Abolishing N/A
Administered 3 William IV No. 3. An act to consolidate and amend the laws for the transportation and punishment of offenders in New South Wales and for defining the respective powers and authorities of general quarter sessions and of petty sessions and for determining the places at which the same shall be holden and for better regulating the summary jurisdiction of justices of the peace and for repealing certain laws and ordinances relating thereto. (24 August 1832)
Gaol Act 1840
Act for the Regulation of Gaols, Prisons and Houses of Correction in the Colony of New South Wales and its Dependencies 1840
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The penal settlement at Moreton Bay was established on 14 September 1824 when the first convicts, transported on the "Amity" from Sydney, as well as their guards and non-military personnel, were landed at Red Cliff Point . The settlement was placed under the authority of a military Commandant, the first being Lieutenant Henry Miller whose appointment was dated 12 September 1824. (1)

Commandant Miller received his instructions from Governor Brisbane in two letters dated 27 and 29 August 1824. His administrative duties included selection of a suitable site, construction of the necessary facilites, planting of crops, issuing of rations, and control, employment, and correction of offences of the convicts. The Commandant was also responsible for maintaining records and providing returns relating to the convicts and stores.(2) The 1824 instructions were superseded by 1829 regulations which provided specific directions regarding such matters as the convicts' employment, their superintendence and discipline, the officers' duties, rations and gardens, the produce to be grown, control of shipping, and medical inspections. A list of the returns to be submitted to Sydney was also included. (3)

The 1829 regulations confirmed the Commandant's overall authority stating that "the Commandant is vested with the control of every Department...every person". (4). The Commandant was assisted in his administrative duties by civil servants such as Peter Spicer, Superintendent of Convicts from 23 August 1826 - 8 May 1839. Convicts were appointed as Gang Overseers and Constables. (5) The Commandant reported directly to the Colonial Secretary in Sydney who then referred matters to the Governor. (6) Under the statute 3 Wm IV No.3, 1832, the Commandant's overall authority was confirmed and he was also, by virtue of his position, appointed a Justice of the Peace authorised to convene courts.(7)

A proclamation by Governor Gipps in the New South Wales Government Gazette declared that from 10 February 1842 Moreton Bay was no longer to be a penal settlement, and was open to free settlement. (8) The last Commandant, Owen Gorman, left Moreton Bay in May 1842. (9)

Commandant Miller was dismissed in August 1825. The Commandants who followed were Captain Peter Bishop (- March 1826), Captain Peter Logan (- October 1830), Captain James Clunie (- November 1835), Captain Foster Fyans (- July 1837), Major Sydney John Cotton (- May 1839), Lieutenant George Gravatt (- July 1839), and the last Commandant, Lieutenant Owen Gorman. (10)

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Preferred Citation

Queensland State Archives Agency ID2753, Commandant's Office, Moreton Bay
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Last updated 9 September 2016
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
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